2013 Honda Accord: First drive and review
The ever-popular Accord receives a predictable yet worthwhile update.
From the side, the new Accord's body design is vaguely reminiscent of a newer BMW, with a strong, contoured line flowing from the front wheel back over the shapely rear-wheel area.
After 37 years in production, the Honda Accord is unquestionably one of the most recognizable and popular vehicles on the road today. So how does an automaker improve on such a proven winner without mucking up a tried-and-true formula for success?
Honda's answer: nothing out of the ordinary.
While it might not look like it, Honda has completely revamped this midsize category heavyweight for the 2013 model year. Seriously, every inch of the car has been reworked. The new Accord has a sharper look that combines more interior space and some much-needed aesthetic tweaks.
However, did Honda do enough to maintain the Accord's top-dog status in a marketplace flooded with more competition than the Japanese automaker has seen in years? Or, are the changes too subtle for anyone or notice or care?
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The layout of the Accord lineup doesn't really change for the new generation. The existing trim designations will carry over, and the vehicle will continue to be offered in both sedan and coupe form. Both variants will be available with either a 4-cylinder engine or a V6, with additional hybrid options to follow.
The new body design is both unmistakably recognizable as an Accord and entirely new at the same time. Overall length, as well as wheelbase, is slightly shorter than the 2012 version, while interior space has actually increased. A focus on materials has also resulted in greater rigidity and lower vehicle weight across the model lineup.
The new Accord sedan lineup starts with the LX as the entry-level trim. Next comes a new trim for 2013, the Sport, which primarily just adds a few aerodynamic and faux-performance bits. Adding a roster of equipment to the LX are the EX and EX-L versions, the latter of which is available with the V6 engine. Topping the range is the new-for-2013 Touring trim, which includes features such as LED headlights and adaptive cruise control. The Accord Coupe trims basically follow the same scheme, although without the Sport and Touring variants.
A plug-in hybrid variant, the Accord PHEV, will arrive in early 2013 as a 2014 model, and will be based on the Touring trim in terms of equipment. It will then be followed by a traditional (non-plug-in) hybrid.
Under the hood
The engines powering the latest Accord models have received modest bumps in power and efficiency, as well as some noteworthy new technology. Obviously, they both continue to feature all of Honda's expected technologies, including the ubiquitous i-VTEC system controlling the engines' four valves per cylinder.
The standard 4-cylinder engine remains 2.4 liters in displacement, but gains a significant feature — direct injection. Thanks to this, as well as numerous other tweaks, the new unit now produces 185 horsepower (up eight horsepower from last year) and 181 lb-ft of torque (up 20 lb-ft). Despite the increase in power, the new engine sips less fuel than its predecessor, rated at 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway.
For the V6, changes are less noteworthy, but welcome nonetheless. Despite lacking direct injection like the 4-cylinder, the 3.5-liter V6 engine receives a modest boost of seven horsepower to a new total of 278, although in return, torque drops by a hair, to 252 lb-ft.
The cylinder-deactivation system remains in place, but it has been redesigned to no longer need the middle 4-cylinder stage, now simply switching between three and six cylinders. The V6 engine continues to be offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, and its automatic option has been updated to a new 6-speed unit as well.
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant will feature a powertrain consisting of a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 124-kilowatt electric motor, producing a combined output of 196 horsepower. Featuring several different drive modes, the PHEV will be able to run all-electric for 10 to 15 miles and achieve a total tank range of over 500 miles, as well as an expected 100 MPGe fuel-economy rating.